Add This To Your Calendar!

Check off American History for weeks! Riley’s Farm is hosting it’s annual “Colonial Faire” in July! Tickets are only $12 to $15 and there is SO much to see! If you spent 6 hours at the fair, I’d say that’s about 9 days of “instruction” at least (if you’re the schooling and detailed record keeping type)!

Click HERE for details and tickets!

Backpacks!

Years ago, at a campground, I made one of the best discoveries. The campground had an interpretive trail like many we’d been to, but this one gave you an “adventure backpack” to take with you for $5 and a $20 deposit. In that backpack was a laminated field guide, binoculars, a handheld microscope, baggies for collecting treasures, a trash bag to help clean up as you visited (clever), and a scavenger hunt page. My sons loved it! And we resolved to get backpacks of our own to have with us wherever we went. These packs were lifesavers on so many occasions. Not only did I not have to carry water and snacks for everyone anymore, but they used them to bring home all sorts of exciting treasures that I didn’t need to clean out of their pockets before I did the laundry!

Here’s a list of what we kept in them in case you’d like ideas to make your own!

A “field guide” of some sort for the area we were in.

  • Binoculars
  • Handheld microscope
  • Baggies for collecting
  • Trash bag for helping clean up where we go. My older son insisted on having rubber gloves for this purpose.
  • Sunscreen and chapstick
  • Bandana
  • Kite string
  • Water bottle and snacks.
  • A hat
  • Geocache trinkets
  • Pens, pencils, and sketch pad
  • A small pocket knife, yes, I let my kids have pocket knives.

I’ll admit, sometimes the bags got a little full and we had to cull thru them from time to time. When they were little the packs were smaller but as they grew they transferred to the regular school backpacks everyone has. I spent about $20 on each backpack that lasted forever since we weren’t lugging around books. And from $10 to $20 on the microscope and binoculars. They don’t need to be fancy, just a little tough, built for kids.

Other things that ended up in the backpack were a fire starting kit, a space blanket, a book we were reading, a pedometer, candy, bird calls, and old wooden games we got at a fair one time. Things were always rotating in and out of there. Sometimes we were hosting “Flat Stanley” characters or a stuffed animal needed to come along.

Every time we went anywhere, from a walk around the neighborhood to hiking in the forest, from the local park to Disneyland, those bags went with us. We’d constantly stop to inspect a bug or plant, identify it, maybe draw a picture of it, or take a picture. We collected interesting leaves and rocks. We built paper boats and floated them down streams. And I took notes to remember an idea they had or something we needed to bring the next time we came.

Speaking of notes, I took pictures or made notes to remember the things we talked about or investigated and translated that to my personal blog the next morning while they watched cartoons. That was my “education tracking” during our elementary age years.

Get out there and have some fun following where your kids lead you on the trail or in the neighborhood!

Annual Passes Worth Every Cent!

There are two annual passes we have bought every year that I highly recommend, the “Forest Adventure” pass and the “America the Beautiful” pass. You can buy them online at My Scenic Drives.

The “Forest Adventure” pass is $30 and a second is only $5 more, so share with a friend! It allows you to park anywhere in the forest. Yes, there is controversy here. Does the money really go to keeping the trails nice and the bathrooms clean? Who knows?! And do they give tickets for parking without one? Occasionally. And I’ve heard the fine is the same as the pass. But…I’m trying my best to teach civics here as well and the law of the land is to have a parking pass, so we get one and leave it at that.

The “America the Beautiful” pass is $80 and gets you into all the National Parks. Of course, if you don’t plan on leaving the immediate area this year,  you can always get an annual pass for just Joshua Tree National Park for $40, but we’ve found that we usually get up to other parks in California at least once a year, so the $80 one is a deal for that.

When I lived in Orange County as a kid, I rarely went up to the mountains. My parents worked regular, Monday through Friday type, jobs, so we only had weekends and holidays to make the trek. Those are crazy busy times! I just assumed it was always like that, so I didn’t take my kids up there until we moved out to the desert and were looking for fun stuff to do during the week while Dad worked. That’s when I fell in love with Big Bear!

We’ve been making the hour drive up there about once a week for years now. We’ve explored mountain trails, hiked all over, gone fishing (another permit, of course, we ARE in California), looked for geocaches, played in the snow, ate (a lot), mountain biked, gone to the zoo. There’s so much to do up there! And during the week it’s so NOT crowded!

Here are a few links to places we love!

Fishing – Take Me Fishing is a good place to start if you’ve never been before! You can get a license there and look up the myriad of rules. I also love Big Bear Lake Sporting Goods. You can get a license there and everything else you need. Ask all the questions you like, they are nice people!

Mountain Biking – Check out Mountain Bike Big Bear for trails and such. And the best bike shop ever is Chains Required! Great prices, great people, they have everything you need. You can even rent a bike for a day and see if you enjoy the sport!

Hiking – AllTrails can help you find the best trail for you. Add Geocache to your phone and find those on the way!

Big Bear Discovery Center

Big Bear Zoo

And my favorite tip, we always stop at the Village Visitor Center first for a bathroom break and to re-group after the drive. It has saved us many times. I’ll also admit that we stop there before we leave as well. Lunch, ice cream, bookstore. They even have an awesome music store!

What does this have to do with home education? Everything. This IS education. So much science, history, PE, even literature. This isn’t a day off for adventuring. The adventuring IS the education. We had a backpack of snacks, water, and tools we took with us everywhere. We took pictures of things we found, made maps of where we went, looked at things with microscopes and binoculars. We had a notebook to draw in, a nature guide, a bandana (for everything), and a first aid kit. We even brought a book with us and read out loud while we picnicked at the top of the hike, alongside the lake, or in a grassy meadow. Go explore!

Civil War Days at Calico Ghost Town

Here’s a great day trip coming up on February 17-19, 2018!

Calico Ghost Town in Yermo is a great way to live some history! And a Civil War Reenactment only adds to the day! Check out some age-appropriate books, websites, and maybe a movie before you go and then spend the day (or the weekend) in Calico!

Click HERE for the details!

Riley’s Stone Soup Farm Homeschool Day

There’s another Homeschool Day coming up in Oak Glen! Riley’s Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Farm has announced its own Homeschool Day, October 6 & November 9th.  For more information and to make your own reservations, click HERE!

Printers Fair in Los Angeles

The International Printers Museum in Los Angeles is hosting it’s 8th annual Printers Fair on October 1st! Check out their website HERE for details on the fair.

The museum is only open on Saturday’s but they are open by reservation Tuesday through Friday. It also looks like they have some wonderful interactive tours! If you’d like to book one and invite people to join you to make the minimum number of students, we’d be happy to promote your tour for you here and on Facebook. Just send us an email about it to info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com

 

Calico Ghost Town’s 50th Calico Days!

Calico Days at Calico Ghost Town
October 1 & 2, 2016

This looks like loads of fun! Did you know they do school tours as well? Even if you can’t make it to Calico Days, consider making a day of Calico Ghost Town. It’s all my favorite parts of Knott’s Berry Farm (from when I was a kid) without the high ticket price and crowds!

CalicoDays

Dino Fest & Homeschool Days at the Natural History Museum

This looks like loads of fun for Dino-loving people! The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles has announced Dino Fest on September 24th & 25th. Check their site for details about the day’s offering. Tickets run from $5 to $12 per person. There is a parking fee as well. You can pre-order tickets online.

This year’s “Homeschool Days” have also been announced! These events are free but there is a charge for parking. Get there early and explore. Bring a lunch and then wander the Rose Garden!

Thursday, September 29 – The Wonderful World of Pterosaurs
Wednesday, February 1 – The Art of Science
Monday, April 24 – Plants and Pollinators
Tuesday, June 13 – Extreme Mammals

Don’t want to drive to LA? Post to a local group, or grab a homeschool friend, see about maybe renting a car for the drive. Get there! It’s so worth it!

 

Civil War Reenactment – Huntington Beach

Want to escape the heat of the desert and need a legitimate excuse to drive to Huntington Beach? How about Southern California’s Largest Civil War Reenactment?! This a great event for the whole family.

September 3rd & 4th at Huntingbeach Central Library

Afterwards, you can drive north through Buena Park and stop at Farrell’s for ice cream before you head home!

La Brea Tar Pits – Homeschool Days

The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles has announced its “Homeschool Days”! This a great chance to take your family to see what the museum has to offer. For details, click on the links above to take you right to their site. They have a page about how to get there and how much it costs, what’s available, and a link to resources for your family to use before and after your trip!

Meet the Mammoths – Wednesday, October 19, 2016
L.A.’s Carnivores – Friday, January 13, 2017
Bugs and Botany – Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Dig It! – Wednesday, June 7, 2017